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Gardening How-to Articles

How to Wrap a Fig Tree to Protect It for the Winter

Maeve Turner is curator of BBG's Herb Garden.


  • Thom Spengler February 20, 2020

    I’m pretty sure that the sun will warm the black tar paper to give a bit of heat-buffering. Might keep the ground a few degrees warmer and protect branches from wind.

  • Andre Bilovol January 13, 2020

    It’s true the insulation or wrap will only work to prevent wind demadge.  One thing that can be done is wrapping the trees with Christmas lights(not LED) before putting insulation or outer protection.  The light will generate heat and insulation will help keep it.  I would put it on a thermostat to prevent it from running when not necessary.

  • Joan November 8, 2019

    Can you wrap them loosely if there are still leaves and green figs on the tree when there is a frost coming in November? and then tighten them up later when the leaves fall off?

  • Roscoe November 3, 2019

    I simply use a hot water heater blanket.  Works great.

  • Drew B October 28, 2019

    I live in PA west of Philadelphia, I have been trying everything. I had mice issues, filled straw around tree, mice ate all the bark off the tree and killed it. Last couple of years I have wrapped with burlap and then plastic, trees still die back and do not produce fruit until fall when it is too late. I am going to try the above method on a couple trees and get tree bags for a couple and see what happens.

  • Warren Howell July 18, 2019

    Before last winter (Dec 2018) here in Northern Virginia I wrapped 16 fig trees very similarly to the way you wrapped yours. They came through the winter (fairly moderate, with maybe 21 days below 20F) fairly well. The trees emerged with 2 feet to 5 feet of good brown bark. They showed green initials right on time but eventually produced very few figlets. Why?

  • jady.handal April 29, 2019

    I live is southern Maryland. I have 2 dozen trees. I had die back the past 3 years, so last year I gave up & just left them on their own. I have tried large polyester bags, that don’t work; I tried 6 ft tall chicken wire filled with leaves —doesn’t work. Last year I gave up; did nothing & got a better, although partial survival rate. Interestingly, I think it is the wind that does it, not the cold. I had two east facing trees that were blocked by a building from the west wind. They were fine: not a dead branch on them. All others had partial or total die back. Have you any idea what is the precise mechanism causing dieback? wind? cold? I doubt it is ice or snow because i have none & i still get dieback. I tried antidesicant sprays to prevent dehydration by wind—no luck. I get dieback when there 2 or more days below 20°. Your recommendation while i’m sure works well for you is just not practical. It requires 2 or 3 people and will cost over $100 a tree. Has anyone had success with a method suitable for one person and a large volume of trees?

  • Betty April 8, 2019

    I wish I came across this article last fall :(

  • Lewis January 6, 2019

    I wouldn’t imagine they’d need to be waterproof…a freeze doesn’t hurt mine; they really need to get down in the 20s before I have die back.  I just wrap mine in burlap, stack it and fill burlap with pine needles.

  • Bryan September 27, 2018

    My understanding is that biggest risk to figs in this climate is root freezing resulting in cellular destruction. You’re wrapping the tree, but there’s nothing in the ground to keep water out or surface freezing. How would you recommend handling a tree that may not be old enough to have very deep roots?

  • [email protected] September 19, 2018

    Where can I buy burlap in a roll? Also, the jute twine?

  • Stephen Rutsky August 15, 2018

    First I tie the branches close together. Then I put piles of twigs and leaves at the base of the tree.Then I cover the tree with a plastic tarp and string tie it round the tree. Use rocks to hold the plastic to the ground. This creates a mini greenhouse effect, when the leaves give off heat. If it gets moisture inside the “greenhouse,” cut small slits in the plastic to let air circulate. Fig trees die from wet branches, combined with wind chills. This method has always worked for me; ,the trees come back tall and full and give a bountiful harvest. One year the tree was 15 feet high and I canned 50 pints of figs besides the ones I ate and gave to my neighbors. Try it, your fig trees will like it!!!

  • Maria July 23, 2018

    Can a potted fig tree in a large (too heavy to move) cold-resistant tree pot survive a NYC winter if it is wrapped as recommended and remains outdoors? Do the roots inside the pot need special care?

  • Tony Manocchio June 30, 2018

    Ran across the Dec. 2017 article on fig trees by Maeve Turner. I live in Cleveland and have some history with winterizing fig trees in this area. I am trying to find an easier method and ran across two items and thought I would ask if BBG had any knowledge or opinion on a product known as Winter Wrapz and/or Pop Up Protector/Pop Up Plant Protectors. I am not sure if wind or freezing temp is a larger threat to fig trees or if they are equal threats. Thank you.

  • Jonathan Flothow December 17, 2017

    Trees don’t generate heat, so there’s no heat for insulation to capture. A wrap might slightly slow down how quickly the tree temperature changes after a change in air temperature, but the temperature inside the wrap will almost always be the same as outside. A wrap could reduce moisture loss, though. Basically every fig in Brooklyn and Queens died back to the ground those two winters. Short of altering the microclimate around a fig (such as with a greenhouse, however small), there’s no way of keeping it warmer than the air.

  • BBG staff December 8, 2017

    From Maeve Turner: Interesting—I’ve never had any problems with this in the past. That’s about all I can say about it…It does seem like it would be tempting for mice, but like I said, I haven’t had this issue any of the years I’ve done it.

  • P. Ward December 7, 2017

    Do you have to be concerned about mice nesting inside and eating at the bark? I don’t see you’ve applied any soil to the bottom of the wrapping.

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